Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Detonate my dreams

Some thoughts, random or otherwise on a Tuesday in a quiet atmosphere...

A friend of mine (who is a well-known/successful musician) was asking how The Punch Line's album was coming along and if I was happy with the way the songs are turning out. He asked because we were reminiscing over his debut album and the thrill it gave him (and his bandmates). I had to remind him that while his first album was released when he was much younger, I've lived with some of these songs for (nearly twenty) years. I'm happy to hear them come to life, but there are moments when I feel a sense of loss. Keep in mind, not in a melancholic or empty manner (nothing as serious); just that something's missing.

As it's been wisely stated (and I'm paraphrasing here), a first album should be a momentous occasion--where all your ideas finally come to light. Some of the songs are quite good--certainly the first one that springs to mind is "Beauty Lies", by virtue of the fact that it wasn't written until '98 and I had conceived this album in '88 (more or less). The performance is stellar and the vibe is there. "Train Of Thought", which of course, has been raised to a new height of pride and compliment (by others than myself) is as near to perfect as I could have designed. "Second Time Around", which is a song that I admit to being quite fond of, is coming along--for a first attempt, again, the feeling is there. Yet, some of the others seem to be lacking a certain spirit or power, if you will. Granted, reality dictates that not every song is going to be as much of a knockout as the next or previous one, but every time I listen to "Someone" and "Puppet Master", they're missing an excitement that the other tracks generate.

Everyone knows that I've never been in love with "Let It Go", as it's an old Carl Treboschi/Rob Ross carry-over from the previous Punch Line era, which Carl sung and was always something of a throwaway. Yet, as much of a concession as this song was in adding it to this album, it has drive and bluster and energy. It has that verve that the two aforementioned tracks are lacking. I like the two songs a great deal; they fit this triumvirate for the album ("Bitter Sweet", which has yet to be recorded, being the third) and for some reason, they aren't achieving the necessary feel that they should have. I'm not sure why; it could be because they were the last things recorded before the disaster with "Synchronic West" occurred (which still plagues us); it could be the fact that on two separate occasions, the vocals had been done when none of us were physically well or that they were done in an uncomfortable fashion--it really could be any number of things. The point is, the songs need that special something and I'm glad I've decided to eschew (for the moment) going back to try and "get it right" during the next session. I want to move ahead and start working on "Inside" and then to "Bitter Sweet". Once those tracks are completed, then we'll return to "Someone" and "Puppet Master". The time and space from those songs, I think, will allow us the ability to re-attack the vocals with a refreshed passion.

I'd explained all the above to my friend (who will remain nameless as I don't like name droppers; say what you will--it isn't cool nor impressive) yesterday and his response was "I'm glad you're taking the reins again. I thought you were getting a bit soft", which surprised me. Not in a bad way, mind you--he just felt that I needed to keep the band on track and focused in getting this album recorded and then moving on to do the other things that bands do in the aftermath of a release. "The strength of your leadership is what will keep the good ship Punch Line sailing smoothly through rocky waters" had to be the line of the night. Funny as it is, I'm inclined to agree with him--and I like the seafaring metaphor. Focus, strength and belief in those songs is what will make this ultimately come together the way I want, as at the end of the day, it's all about the songs. The extraneous bullshit is just that--bullshit--and I will easily shoot it down.

It's a good feeling to be able to step back from your own music and look at it from as much of an outsider's point of view as possible. I intend to maintain the same position I've had from the very beginning. At the end of this record--when it's complete and in my hands, with art and physical disc--if I listen to it from start to finish and feel a sense of satisfaction, then I'll be happy. I want to know that the songs turned out the way I perceived/conceived and that I would be proud of this record. I don't want to feel about this the way I do about the Smile e.p. or to a lesser degree, some of the earlier Punch Line/Two Minutes Hate releases. It's all down to pride in the song and subsequently, in the performance.

Having said that, I can now turn my energies to some of the other moments of pleasure in my life.


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